Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My mother has had a fever for at least 5 weeks now. Today, on the phone, I actually heard her cough. Then I actually thought to myself, "my mother is going to die."

There is some sort of infection. Instead of thinking in terms of how to kick it, she is thinking in terms of how to stay out of the hospital because Daddy can't handle it. She will die if she doesn't beat the infection. She will either die of the infection, or she will die of cancer because they have ceased giving her chemo until she is "well."

Ironic, no?

In the midst of this, they have purchased a house in Jackson, Tennessee, that is right around the corner from my brother. Tonight, on the phone, he said something about how I was lucky that they weren't going to be my neighbors. I laughed. I laughed to keep the peace because I will be at his house for a visit in less than 72 hours. I will be bringing my new husband and stepdaughter to meet him for the first time in less than 72 hours. Considering that yelling is his soft mode of communication, peace is good.

This is why I blog.

Screw him. I'm lucky? I'm lucky they won't be my neighbors? I spent weeks of my time researching places for them to live, doctors for them to see, and I FREAKING QUIT MY JOB so that I could take care of them and the rest of my family, and I'm lucky? Oh my sweet lord. I could chuck this pc across the room right now.


So, everyone continues to make pretty steps towards the big move to Jackson, and all I have to say tonight is this:

I do not believe that my mother will make it to Christmas. They have already started hanging the wreaths Downtown, and I don't believe my mother will make it to Christmas.

Suck ass. Suck complete and utter ass. Oh, and ho, ho, fucking ho.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It's 11:15 PM. Lovely and I are still up. She's reading Harry Potter and I'm, well, I'm doing this. Guy was supposed to be home from a meeting at 10:00 PM. This is the first night that I've been in charge.

I picked Lovely up from school today. In all honesty, I tried to pick her up from the middle school. That didn't work out so well since she is in the 5th grade and doesn't go to the middle school. When I arrived at the appropriate school finally, they didn't want me to have her because I wasn't on "the list." Admirable, but slightly annoying since we now share the same last name and address as indicated on my driver's license which they did ask to see.

So who was on "the list?" The Ex was of course. Papa. The Ex’s friend. And a couple of other people I've never heard of. Emergency contacts? Not Guy. Just his Ex's friend. The friend who decided it was a good idea to waltz into our yard uninvited and walk menacingly around Guy’s new convertible. The friend who then decided it was a good idea not to get off the property when asked nicely, but rather to get in Guy’s face and ask, "What is wrong with you?"

God, I live on Jerry Springer some days. Please just don't let me wake up in a trailer next to my 1st cousin.

Anyway, I did get to leave with Lovely. It was awesome. When she came down the hall and saw me - she did a full body grin. I swear. It was the coolest. So then I took her to Justice and bought her $300 worth of clothes.

Crappy stepmom.

Granted, she needed clothes so, I bought her some clothes.

Jeez I can't lie. I bought her a lot of clothes. Including a smooth leather(ish) jacket and little plaid skirt that basically says, "I may be 10, but I rock out and kick ass." All she needs now is boots.

Then, I stopped at a fast food restaurant and bought her a "Bo-Berry Biscuit." I think it's a Southern thing. They take a perfectly good biscuit, put fake blueberries all in it, drizzle, and by drizzle, I mean drown it in sugary icing and sell it to crappy stepmoms like myself. Paired with sweet tea, you have enough calories and caffeine to keep the child up to 11:26 PM.

I should so put her to bed. She's reading though, and when I met her, she hated to read. I was so sad. I bought her Judy Blume books for her birthday, The Incredible Journey, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I wanted her to love to read. So, now, I'm supposed to stop her?

Crappy stepmom.

Now I find myself going back on my word that she could just get ready for bed and then wait up for her dad. I so do not want to have to put this child to bed and have her not get to see her dad tonight. What is my freaking problem?

Oh, and I don't know what "best friend charms" are. I suck. Someone please help.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The thing that sucks most about having a distorted body image it that when you are thin, you don't appreciate it.

One of my personal goals is that before I get pregnant, I want to be okay with my body. For once in my life, I would like to look in the mirror and like what I see. The ironic part is that I'm heavier than I have ever been in my life and trying to accomplish this while attempting to lose about 15 pounds.

Trying to diet and tell yourself, "You're okay," at the same time is pretty funny. I'm eating 300 calorie lunches while staring at my body in the morning trying to become comfortable with my new 30 something shape. It's like some sort of cruel joke.

I don't need to look like a supermodel. I've outgrown thinking I need to be 5'8" and 130 pounds. I would like to keep the muffin top to a minimum and still be comfortable in a swimsuit. Surely I can get my twisted mind around that without going all freaking anorexic.

And if I make it to my weight goal, am I going to appreciate it this time? Will I be able to look in the mirror and say, "Damn, girl. You look good." or will I just see the residual love handles?

The one thing I've never read about eating disorders is that physical problems aside, they leave a scar on your body image that seems to never go away. Even though I understand how unhealthy being anorexic is, I still don't think I ever looked thin. I was 5'8" and 105 pounds before I got help. I knew I had a problem, but I didn't think, and don't remember myself, as being thin. Getting over the disorder in order to eat is one thing. Restructuring your thinking into seeing yourself as a normal person is quite another.

What I would like is to just like me. Now and 20 pounds from now in either direction.

Every morning, Guy wakes me up the same way. He pulls my head over onto his chest, starts stroking my hair, and says, "So do you still like being Mrs. Guy?" To which I nuzzle in closer and nod "yes" with all the nodding I can muster while still in the 30 minute process of waking up.

You see, I am what Guy calls a "grumpykins." I do not wake up well in the mornings. Since getting to wake up next to him, it is better. His daily question does have a lovely way of making me smile first thing in the morning, and smiling first thing in the morning tends to make the rest of your day easier to bear.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I've been working in charity for almost 6 years now. The music school that I run is a non-profit organization that gives music lessons to children from low-income families for $1 per week. It is a service, or a charity. The lessons cost the school $26 each, so essentially, every half-hour of operation, there is another $25 to make up in grants and donations.

This past week, I've been reconsidering the purpose and value of charity. I even thought that I might be turning into a Republican. Lest I lose a reader right here and now, at the end, I decide that I'm not.

What I decided was that there are 2 types of charity.

There is charity that believes the recipient is less fortunate and somehow beneath the giver. It is out of the giver's kindness and general superdooperness that this unfortunate soul will be lifted up out of its misery.

Then there is the charity that believes that the recipient is equal to the giver and therefore deserves the help being given so that the two might have a chance at the same opportunities in life.

After serving my community for almost 6 years, watching my first marriage crumble as I spent 50 plus hours a week at this part-time job, and more than doubling the school's services and annual budget, I was called a racist last week.

The short story is I had to write a disciplinary letter to a parent who was completely out of line with one of our faculty members. I don't like to do it, but teachers can be hard to keep, and I have to stand behind them when they are mistreated.

The parent responded with a handful of letters to me, the Board President, and the city arts commission. She had her venting opportunity, and I think that will be the end of it. I certainly don't send disciplinary letters without support and approval of the Executive Committee, so it's not like I just flew one off the handle and sent it for kicks. They were aware, informed, and in agreement.

The point is that she declared that the school and myself were a bunch of racists. She said that she had noticed at recitals that the black children were given less challenging pieces than the white children. Never mind that I can't think of a single white child in the program who is an advanced student. There are some intermediate and advanced Latinos and Asian Indians, but since they are not black, I guess that makes them white.

She stated that I always try to make them grateful and if they are some sort of charity.

Um. Sorry to point this out, but you are. I remind people who supports us, and yes, I expect everyone at the school to be grateful. That includes me, the families, the teachers, and the Board. When people give you things, you say thank you.

So I went around and around about how that made me feel. The first stop was at the misconception that all my work was futile and I should never have left the deep South where I was never surprised when someone randomly called me a racist for no bloody reason. I thought I was stupid for trying to be a private school educated white woman running an organization that serves mostly African American students. Who was I to think that I could do that without being considered a uppity racist trying to help the poor black children.

After a few more stops at self pity, more anger, and the one that I almost declared Republican at, I found myself at the stop of, "This is not my issue."

Not once have I ever thought that I was helping the poor black children until this woman suggested it to me. It has been and will continue to be my stance that every child deserves a music education, not just those whose families have expendable income with which to provide it. I do not care what color you are, where you came from, or why you don't have enough money to provide it. The children deserve it because they are just like all the other children.

So next time you write a check to a charity, stop and think why you are writing it. Are you writing it because you want to help fellow human beings and try to make the human playing field a little more even whenever you can? Or is there some other reason that you feel the need to write that check?

Pity is cheap to pay in but expensive to pay out. Compassion is a much better bargain.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Deborah commented to me today that Lovely seemed to be adjusting remarkably well to her new family construction. I agreed and tossed in how I knew that we would hit our rough spots and I was ready for it and I would be patient, yah, yah, blah. Deborah said that things might happen and they might not. "I never got the stepmom thing from my kids," she said.

That's probably because she just called them "her" kids. She accepted them right away and loved them for who they were, where they were, and whatever they were to become.

As much as I am learning to love her, I have yet to do that with Lovely. Right now, she still feels like someone else's child. Guy has already jumped right in and introduces me and "our daughter" to people like I'm the one who gave birth to her. It makes me a little uneasy; like someone is going to point and yell, "Fraud!"

Fraud is a fear of mine. For whatever reason, I have always felt like I'm just getting by in whatever I'm doing. I don't know if it is because I never planned to be a piano teacher and I never planned to be an arts administrator, or if it is some other misfiring in my brain. I swear, I'm standing in the White House, receiving an award for the school that I run, Laura freaking Bush is shaking my hand and I'm thinking, "Why am I here, and how can I keep them from finding out that it shouldn't be me?"

I would love to start taking piano lessons again myself. There are so many things that I want to learn: better technique, how to really play jazz, and a breadth of literature that I know I missed out on in my younger years. So far, what stops me from starting is fear of fraud. My students place in so many competitions that I have developed this reputation in the area as being a kickass teacher. Why then do I still feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants? If I were to sign up for lessons, then someone in my own profession would find out how very little I know and how very little I can play of the standard classical repertoire, and I would be found out as a fraud.

So I go about my days, doing the best that I can and praying that no one finds out that I am less than I seem. Stated that way, I think maybe I could use therapy. Of course, that would mean actually talking to someone, and having them find out that in fact, I am less put together than I seem. Just a big fraud.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Although I would be delighted if a giant cookie rolled out of that truck, it is in fact, something much much better.

Thanks to some really strong guys and pretty ingenious piano moving tools, I am now the proud owner of a 6'4" Mason & Hamlin grand piano.

The joy comes not just in playing it, hearing it played, and sitting staring at it praying it doesn't vanish out of my imagination - there is joy in the feeling of validation.

I am a pianist. A musician. A singer. A composer. A teacher. And now, I have an instrument that makes me feel valid. Like I'm doing this for real.

It's like a computer programmer using a Commodore 64 to program, or if Emeril was cooking in the woods over an open fire. Most professions require certain tools specific to that profession. Mine is no different.

In a month, I lose my title of Executive Director. Now, it doesn't bother me quite as much.

I am a musician.

Thank you, Guy.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Update below.

There is not an accurate way to describe dealing with Guy’s ex-wife. This is supposed to be a journal, and thereby assumed to be the truth, but if I began detailing the actions of Ex, no one would believe me.

Since my parents are on hiatus from impending doom at the moment though, I thought I would give it a shot.

Voicemails from Ex start a few different ways. The most frequent is a sickeningly sweet voice, like a 1-900 number has dialed us up by mistake, saying "Hellooo, (enter stupid pet name here), this is your number one wife FOREVER calling . . .blah blah blah."

Then we have the, "Why don't you both start cheating on each other now so we can get this temporary marriage over with? blah blah blah."

Occasionally, we get one that is so insane that we cannot understand what she is saying. It is banshee shrieking by someone and difficult to translate.

She likes to tell us that our marriage is temporary. I am still a mistress (which would be a different story if I ever was one to begin with). There is no combating her either. When you answer the phone, she starts in with her questions that never end long enough to say, "shut up." "Quit calling." "None of your business." She literally does. not. quit. yelling. It is the most insane behavior I have ever seen. There are no boundaries with Ex. Even though I have never even met her, she feels the absolute right to demean me, discuss me, stalk me, google me, scream at me over the phone, and attempt to bully me into not being with her ex-husband. Number one wife, forevah.

There is humor to this. She is usually a good source of laughter for Guy and me. Not because we are unusually cruel, but because she is unusually unrelenting. There is also sadness though. The other 50% of the time, Lovely is with her. Lovely gets screamed at and told that she is a traitor for liking me. I have told her to throw me under the truck, please, just throw me under the truck. Just tell her you hate me and I'm evil, and I smell funny too. Lovely just looks at me and says, "It's not right to lie."

Unbelievable. Today, as we stood side by side looking out the upstairs window waiting with our breath drawn for Ex to arrive and pick her up, I told her, "You are amazing." She just said, "Thanks." There was no explanation needed. So if I'm the big bad stepmonster and all around evil mistress, why then did I just have to pry Lovely's arms from around me and dry her tears so that she could go with her mother this afternoon?

Crazy is as crazy does. I choose not to fight back, but to remain silent and pick up the pieces every time that Ex breaks them down. This is my family, and I love them. Bring it on. I'm ready to just stand here, take it, and shield your own daughter from as much of the negativity as I can.

It seems that Ex will continue to look for me and whatever information she can on the internet. Therefore, I will not post about her anymore. I debated on reposting this, and I did edit it. It's best not to issue judgements I suppose, and from now on, there will not be any new posts about her specifically. Trust me though, you won't be missing much.